Research and Methods

Research and Methods

There are many different ways that you can measure and learn about the brain. Flip through the content below to learn about studying how people learn to think and act.

Electroencephalogram (EEG) or electroencephalography

EEG measures electrical signal from the brain using a soft net of woven electrodes placed on your head. Since different people have different sized heads, we measure everyone first to figure out which size EEG net to use. The net will be soaked in a saline (salt water) solution. The recording electrodes will be placed on the scalp in a certain pattern so we know where the electrodes are located in reference to the brain. During the experiments, participants will sit comfortably and will listen to sounds or view videos and pictures on a computer screen. Sometimes these games involve interacting with anotehr person or a computer animation.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

We will take pictures of your brain using an MRI machine at UNL. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is a way to measure chemicals in the brain during the MRI session. Brain imaging is performed while you lie on a table, which is slid into a tunnel that contains a large magnet. Many children and adults around the world have had these tests, and they are very helpful for teaching us about how the brain works.

During the scan, our staff members will help the MRI technicians make you feel comfortable while you are inside the scanner. You will be able to communicate to our staff and the MRI technicians through a microphone at any point in time. When the MRI is taking pictures and looking at chemicals, you will not feel significant pain or discomfort. The MRI machine is loud when turned on and may cause minor auditory discomfort. To avoid such discomfort, you will be given and must wear earplugs and/or headphones. While inside the scanner, you will need to lie very still, and watch a computer screen. We may also ask you to make simple responses to the pictures and movies you see and the sounds that you hear.

Near-infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS)

NIRS machines have been safely used around the world for over 25 years and are very helpful for teaching us about how the brain works. Participants wear a hat that is covered with optodes (light emitters) and this hat is connected to the NIRS machine by long wires. The NIRS measures the amount of time an infrared light signal takes to travel through the brain. This machine is soundless, painless, and considered safe.

Combining multiple neuroimaging methods

Sometimes we are able to use several different techniques to measure your brain at once. This allows us to gather more information that really helps us learn about how the brain works.

More information will become available as we begin using new technologies.